Karin Jaffe

  • Infographics Evaluation
  • Karin Jaffe
  • Dept. of Anthropology
  • Fall 2014

Summary

 I used Infographics as part of my Summer Session course (May 27-June 12, 2014). This document summarizes the assignment, anonymous feedback from the students, and concludes with my evaluation of my experience with Infographics. (I tried to paste my students’ infographics into this document, but was unsuccessful; if you’d like to see them, I can send them out.)

 In a Moodle ‘Book’, I provided my students with detailed instructions for The Assignment, including the content of the presentation (see chapters on ‘Traits’ and ‘Presentation Content’) and guidance on creating infographics (see chapters on ‘What are Infographics?’, ‘Why Should I Present my Topic as an Infographic?’, ‘How do I Create an Infographic?’, ‘What Does a Good Infographic Look Like?’ and ‘What Should MY Infographic Look Like?’). I also provided detailed instructions on submitting their Infographics (see chapters on ‘Presenting and Submitting Your Infographic’) and a rubric so that they would know how the assignment would be graded (see chapter on ‘Anthropology 318 Infographics Presentation Rubric’). (On a side note, the book module in Moodle is a great organizing tool when providing students with a lot of instructions!)

    In order to help students organize their thoughts before ‘diving in’ to the creation of their Infographic, I required each student to complete a short ‘Preparation Assignment’ at the end of the first week of class (see ‘Infographics Preparation Assignment, below). Along with the ‘content’ of the preparation assignment, I also required them to submit some graphics they thought would illustrate their ideas. 

The Assignment

  I am requiring my students to do an Infographics presentation instead of a PowerPoint for their final project in my summer session class: Anthropology 318 (Human Development: Sex and the Life Cycle). Here’ a rundown of the assignment and the instructions for creating an infographic:

Traits:

Understanding evolution via natural selection is the cornerstone of this class; you cannot understand the human life cycle from an evolutionary perspective without it. This assignment allows you to show what you have learned about natural selection and human evolutionary biology without memorization while simultaneously developing your oral presentation skills and giving you the opportunity to learn a new and creative way to communicate information: 

Infographics.

    You are asked in this assignment to synthesize the materials to which you have been exposed to in class, the readings, and the first film, framing your ideas logically within the context of evolutionary biology.  This assignment is worth 55 points.

These are the human traits available for this assignment. Students who wish to work with a partner on this assignment must speak with the instructor during the first or second day of class.

(I provide students with a list of traits appropriate for this assignment:)

  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Concealed ovulation
  • Cravings for fat & sweets
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Depression
  • Expulsions: coughing, sneezing, diarrhea
  • Female orgasm
  • Jealousy
  • Morning (pregnancy) sickness
  • Near-sightedness/myopiav
  • Pain
  • Preeclampsia
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sickle-cell anemia

Presentation Content

Each presentation must clearly address these 3 questions:

  1. What is the trait? The infographic must describe your chosen trait. Think of this as the proximate level explanation of the trait. Imagine that the other students in the class are not familiar with the trait you have chosen (even though they may be). For example, if you were giving a presentation on schizophrenia, you need to explain what schizophrenia is (i.e., how it 'works') before you discuss it in terms of natural selection (the functional explanation). Think about how you can describe the trait using visuals as well as text (things to think about: How many people possess the trait? How does the trait 'work'? Is the trait confined to a specific region?)
  2. What was the initial advantage of the trait? What was the function of the trait in the environment of evolutionary adpatedness (EEA) (i.e., what kind of advantage did this trait confer to those expressing the trait initially?)? Keep in mind that the environment in which the trait initially evolved in (EEA) may be very different from the current environment (if it is different than the modern environment, what do you think this early environment was like?). The initial advantage is going to be different for different traits. Think about how you can describe the initial advantage of the trait using visuals as well as text (things to think about: Can you 'illustrate' the ancestral environment with a photo or graphic? Can you 'illustrate' the advantage of the trait with a photo or graphic?).
  3. Is the trait currently advantageous? Lastly, using sound evolutionary arguments, your infographic must explain whether this trait is advantageous today, in an environment that is likely different from the EEA. If you determine that the trait is not advantageous today (but was in the past), you must explain why it still occurs in the human population. Keep in mind that a trait may still be advantageous today, despite the fact that the trait evolved many generations ago. A trait may now be disadvantageous because environmental conditions have changed since the trait was favored. A trait may not be disadvantageous but may serve no function today although it may have in the past. A trait may exist simply because it was linked genetically with a trait that was favored. If the trait was advantageous in the past and is still advantageous today, you must still explain the advantage in the current environment. Think about how you can describe the current advantage of the trait using visuals as well as text (things to think about: Can you 'illustrate' the current environment with a photo or a graphic? Can you 'illustrate' the advantage (or why there isn't one) of the trait with a photo or graphic?).


Keep in mind that while infographics on all traits must answer these three basic questions, the specifics will be very different for different topics. Each presentation must be based on a student-created infographic.

What are Infographics?

Infographics are  "graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infographic). Here is an infographic that explains infographics.

Why Should I Present My Topic As An Infographic?

There are a number of reasons (besides the fact that this is a required assignment) that it might be useful for students to learn how to create infographics:

  1. They make learning more interesting

  2. They enable creativity

  3. They appeal to different learning styles

  4. They can make difficult topics easier to understand

  5. They are increasing in popularity and you will likely have to create one when you enter 'the real world'

  6. They are a way for you to show that you can use technology to create an academic product

How Do I Create An Infographic?

There are many (free) sites that will help you create an infographic. Some of these are:

  1. Easel.ly provides a canvas on which you can build your own infographic by dragging and dropping pre-made design elements. You can use a blank canvas or build upon one of Easel.ly's themes. If Easel.ly doesn't have enough pre-made elements for you, you can upload your own graphics to include in your infographic. Your completed infographic can be exported and saved as PNG, JPG, PDG, and SVG files.
  2. Piktochart provides seven free infographic templates. Each template can be customized by changing the colors, fonts, icons, and charts on each template. If you need more space on the template, you can add more fields at the bottom of the templates. If you need less space, you can remove fields from the templates.
  3. EWC Presenter is a new tool from Easy Web Content (a website creation and hosting service). EWC Presenter makes it easy to create slideshows, banner graphics, and interactive infographics. The slideshow creator and banner graphic creator don't stand-out from other tools like them. The EWC Presenter's infographic animation option is worth noting. EWC Presenter's infographic tool allows you to animate elements within your infographic. And as was featured in a post early this month, EWC Presenter infographics support audio files.
  4. Canva is a service that makes it easy to create beautiful slides, flyers, posters, infographics, and photo collages. Creating these graphics on Canva is a drag-and-drop process. Start by selecting a template then dragging and dropping into place background designs, pictures, clip art, and text boxes. Canva offers a huge library of clip art and photographs to use in your designs. You can also upload your own images to use in your graphics. Your completed Canva projects can be downloaded as PDF and PNG files. You can also simply link to your online graphic.
  5. Infogr.am is an online tool for creating interactive charts, graphs, and interactive infographic posters. There are four basic chart types that you can create on Infogr.am: bar, pie, line, and matrix. Each chart type can be edited to use any spreadsheet information that you want to upload to your Infogr.am account. The information in that spreadsheet will be displayed in your customized chart. When you place your cursor over your completed chart the spreadsheet information will appear in small pop-up window. Infogr.am infographics can include videos and maps along with pictures and text. Your Infogr.am projects can be embedded into your blog, website, or wiki.

What Does A Good Infographic Look Like?

The infographic that explains infographics gives you some pointers.

But VandelayDesign provides some examples of effective infographics.

Of course, you can always search for 'infographics' on the internet, too.

What Should My Infographic Look Like?

Although you must cover the questions outlined above, and you must include the full references you used for the (text and visual) content (a minimum of 2 sources, at least 1 of which must be a published book or article, see list in Chapter 4) you use in your infographic, the style of the infographic is entirely up to you! No rules, but remember you are creating a infographic, so you should include a lot of graphics, not just text.

Presenting and Submitting Your Infographic

Presenting Your Infographic

Creating the infographic itself is only part of the assignment. On the last day of class, each student must present his/her infographic to the class, explaining his/her trait, and its initial and current function, using the infographic as the central part of the presentations. Presentations are limited to 10 minutes.

Submitting Your Infographic

There are 2 options:

  1. Save your infographic as a PDF, JPEG or PNG and upload it as an assignment into Moodle by 8:45 on the last day of class.
  2. Submit the URL for your infographic as an assignment on the Moodle site by 8:45 on the last day of class.

What are not options:

  1. Bringing your saved infographic to class on a flashdrive.
  2. Bringing your save infographic to class on a laptop or tablet.

Sources

You must use, cite and reference at least 2 sources in your infographic. At least one of these sources must be a published article or book (see below for some examples). Your other source(s) can be websites (wikipedia, etc.).

Multiple sources (books, articles, websites) contain information on the evolutionary biology of these traits. A good place to start is with books that summarize the topic and point you to other research (use the citations in the bibliography to find additional sources on your topic).

Books on 2-hour Reserve at the SSU Library

LaFreniere, P. (2010) Adaptive Origins: Evolution and Human Development. Psychology Press, NY.

Lappe, M. (1994) Evolutionary Medicine: Rethinking the Origins of Disease. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.

McKeown, T. (1988) The Origins of Human Disease. Basil Blackwell, Inc., NY.

Neese, R.M. and Williams, G.C. (1994) Why we Get Sick: The New Science of Darwian Medicine. Vintage Press, NY.

Parker, S.T. and Jaffe, K.E. (2008) Darwin's Legacy: Scenarios in Human Evolution. AltaMira Press, NY.

Stearns, S.C. (1999) Evolution in Health and Disease. Oxford University Press, NY.

Key Words

Some words that might be useful in internet/article/book searches:

Evolutionary medicine and...

Darwinian medicine and...

Sexual selection and...

Evolutionary adaptation of...

This is the rubric I provided to students so that they would know how their infographic presentation was being graded. The maximum # of points available was 55.

Anthropology 318 Infographics Presentation Rubric

Name: _____________________________________________


5 points 3-4 points 2-3 points 1 point 0 points
Description of trait

Trait is clearly described Description of trait is somewhat unclear Description of trait is very unclear Not covered
Description of initial advantage (x2) Initial advantage & EEA is very clearly described and easily understood Initial advantage & EEA is clearly described Description of initial advantage & EEA is somewhat unclear Description of initial advantage & EEA is very unclear Not covered
Description of current advantage (x2) Current advantage & environment is very clearly described and easily understood Current advantage & environment is clearly described Description of current advantage & environment is somewhat unclear Description of current advantage & environment is very unclear Not covered
Infographic (x2):
Graphics (relevance)
Graphics (visual) Design/ layout
Graphics represent information appropriately, are visually stimulating and well-laid out. The text/graphic ratio is well-balanced. Most graphics represent information appropriately, and are eye-catching and well-laid out, but there’s a little too much text. The graphics are related to the topic, but they do not add much to the information being conveyed,  layout is okay, but not eye-catching. Too much text. The graphics are not related to the topic and the infographic itself is distracting, misleading and poorly designed. There is way too much text--it is not ‘graphical’. Discussed topic, but did not submit an infographic on time
Mechanics/ grammar Correct capitalization & punctuation, no grammatical or spelling mistakes There are very few grammatical and/or mechanical errors There are several grammatical and/or mechanical errors There are a lot of grammatical and/or mechanical errors The grammatical/ mechanical mistakes are so extensive, it detracts from the infographic
Presentation ability (x2) Presentation made in the time allotted and enhanced the viewer’s understanding of the topic. Presenter made eye contact with the audience. Presentation was made in the time allotted and enhanced the viewer’s understanding of the topic. The presenter made some eye contact with the audience. Presentation went over time and/or did not clarify the topic very much. The presenter made a little eye contact with the audience. Presentation portion was confusing. It was not very helpful in aiding the viewer’s understanding. Presentation portion was very confusing. Did not help the viewer understand the topic or the infographic.
References 2+ references used, cited and referenced. 1 was a book or article 2+ references referenced, but not cited. 1 was a book or article 2 references, but both were websites. Fewer than 2 references used. None included

 

The Infographics Preparation Assignment

Since very few (none, in fact) of the students had any experience creating Infographics, I wanted to make sure they thought about the content of their presentation before they started creating the Infographic itself. To accomplish this, I required each student to complete an “Infographics Preparation Assignment”, due at the end of the first week of class (the course is 3 weeks long, so I wanted students to start thinking about their topics well in advance of when the presentation would be given (on June 12)). This was a Moodle ‘quiz’ consisting of the following questions. Questions 2-4 included a textbox and a space to upload graphics.


  1. What is your trait? You signed up for a pre-approved trait on May 28--check the Moodle site if you can't remember.
  2. Describe your trait in a minimum of 2 sentences. Upload 1-2 photos/graphics you think illustrate your trait visually.
  3. In at least two sentences, what was the trait’s initial advantage, and what was the initial environment (Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness) that the trait evolved in? Upload 1-2 photos/graphics you think illustrates your trait's initial advantage/environment.
  4. In a minimum of two sentences, what is the trait’s current advantage, and what is the current environment in which it exists? Upload 1-2 photos/graphics that you think illustrates the current advantage of your trait.
  5. What tool (e.g., Easel.ly, Piktochart, EWC Presenter, Canva, Infogr.am, etc.) do you plan to use to create your infographic and why? If you want to use a different site, that's fine, but include the link. You can always change, but I want you to look at some options before you make your decision.

Examples of Infographics from ANTH 318 (summer 2014):

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qxqbrvzy2ul8fz1/AADXpadC-foK2jgCNvUE2LfUa?dl=0

Student Feedback:

I required each student to respond to an anonymous survey I created in Moodle. Students were generally positive regarding the Infographics assignments.

My Evaluation

  1. I think the Infographics Presentation Assignment was a success. 73% of respondents indicated that they enjoyed the process of creating their infographics and they also seemed to enjoy showing off their infographics on the last day of class, especially when they were able to incorporate amusing (but applicable) graphics.
  2. That said, I also think it is important for faculty thinking about instituting an infographics assignment to think very carefully about it. Not every assignment can and should be converted into an Infographic. Although the students in ANTH 318 were able to create infographics, I do not think that the the content of the assignment lended itself to infographics very well. Infographics are better suited to statistical or demographic data.
  3. The Preparation Assignment worked well and allowed students to think through the concepts of their presentation before creating their infographic. Most students ‘got it’ and discussed their topic appropriately and provided great pictures/graphics. A few needed more guidance, which I was able to give them as feedback well before the final infographics assignment was due. 73% of respondents stated that this assignment was valuable.
  4. Some logistical issues/solutions I discovered:
    1. I allowed students to submit their infographic as a PDF, JPEG, PNG or as a link to a website. In the future, I would either require, or strongly encourage, students to submit their infographic as PDF, JPEG or PNG. There are three reasons the link option is less appealing:
      1. If your classroom computer is slow (mine was SUPER slow), opening websites can take FOREVER. Opening saved documents, especially PDFs, is much quicker.
      2. The Infogr.am site requires you to either pay to ‘publish’ your infographic, or enter the creator’s username & password to access the infographic on the website. This means you will need each student to come up and open their infographic before displaying it. This is time-consuming, and also means that you (as the instructor) will not have access to the infographic later for grading. Perhaps there are other settings, but I was not aware of them.
      3. Many students used Canva. When you view the infographic on the Canva website, it displays as several ‘pages’. But when you save it (for free) as a PDF, it puts all the pages together into one infographic.
    2. Some students included far too much text in their infographic. I’m not sure why (Not understanding what an infographic is? Not putting the time into finding or creating graphics? Something else?). I think the best way to ‘fix’ this issue is to create an infographic (or several) to show students what ‘good’ and ‘not good’ infographic looks like, specifically for the assignment. I had intended to do this, but I did not have enough time between the end of the spring semester and the beginning of my summer session class.

Overall, though, I’m pleased with the way the infographics project went--I will definitely use infographics in future classes!